The Ripple filter gives you a wavy effect, supposedly something like the ripples on a pond, except when we think of those we usually expect them to be concentric.
If that's what you want, investigate the Zigzag filter instead. Personally, I think Adobe has the names of these two filters reversed.
The Ripple dialog box allows you to specify an Amount from 0 (little ripples) to 999 (big ripples) or 0 to 999 (the ripples go the other direction). You can also choose Small, Medium, and Large from a drop-down list, which controls not the size of the ripples (as you might expect), but how closely spaced together they are. Go figure. This ripple frequency is calculated in proportion to the selection: Choosing Small will produce differently sized ripples in small selections than in large selections.
This is one filter that produces a stark transition with the rest of your image, unless you remember to feather the selection before you apply the effect. You can also produce some wonderful textures by applying the Ripple filter to the same selection multiple times, alternating negative and positive values, or mixing Small, Medium, or Large frequencies. Figure 8.33 shows the Pinch and Ripple filters.
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